Yuma boys ready to take that next step
It could be a big season for the Yuma High School boys basketball team.
Coach Dave Sheffield won the 2014-15 Lower Platte Activities Association regular season title in his first season with a senior-dominated team. The past two seasons have been a challenge as Sheffield had to turn to young lineups featuring lower classmen.
The Indians showed encouraging progress last season, including a big win on the road at a ranked Haxtun team. However, there also was a lot of frustration with close losses to Holyoke, Sedgwick County and Akron, which finished first, second and fifth in the 2A State Tournament, last March.
There was only one senior on last year’s team, so everybody returns, along with 6-foot-7 junior Jake Chrisman, who missed last season due to injury, which also means expectations are high for the 2017-18 season.
“We had pretty much the entire group playing together this summer,” Sheffield said last week. “Our chemistry has increased. They have great potential; they just have to put in the work and realize it.”
YHS will be fielding one its lengthiest teams in recent memory. Among those returning are 6-foot-4 senior Diego Covarrubias, 6-3 junior Victor Mendoza, along with the 6-7 Chrisman. Sheffield said the return of Chrisman helps open things up for the lineup as players such as Covarrubias can go back to playing more on the perimeter.
Senior guard Connor Hixon also is about 6-foot and has plenty of hops, and senior Chadron Coffield, senior Jesus Vasquez and senior Bryan Mendez, along with junior Steven Wells are all around 6-foot. Sophomore Rolando Caraveo also figures into the varsity rotation, and is the shortest at 5-7. Sheffield said sophomores Johnathon Rascon and Chase McCreath also have looked good in preseason practice.
The 2017-18 version of the Tribe definitely is Sheffield’s oldest since his first season here.
“We’re stacked with upperclassmen, plus some younger players,” he said. “We have a good mix.”
The Indians open the season Friday and Saturday at the Canine Classic at Highland High School in Ault. Their first game Friday is against Dawson at 5:30 p.m.
“Our length is good, our ability to create is strong,” Sheffield said. “Our situational awareness is a lot better. The bulk of our rotation, this is their third year of varsity.”
The LPAA teams were senior dominated last season, particularly state champion Holyoke. Sedgwick County, Akron and Haxtun also lost several top players to graduation. Yuma returns the most varsity experience in regards to LPAA teams.
However, Yuma is going to have to earn its stripes on the court. The 2A preseason Top 10, released Monday on CHSAANow.com had Sedgwick County No. 1, Holyoke No. 2 and Akron No. 8. Yuma is the first of “Others Receiving Votes” effectively ranked No. 11 in the preseason poll.
Yuma should be tested immediately this weekend as Dawson advanced to regional last year. A potential matchup on Saturday is against Highland, which beat Yuma last year in the Canine Classic championship game, and was highly ranked all season and advanced to the
state tournament. The Huskies are ranked No. 4 in the preseason Top 10.
The Indians stayed busy in November with a series of Saturday scrimmages, hosting five schools in Yuma one weekend, and going to Simla last Saturday.
“The scrimmages are good to see where you are deficient,” Sheffield said. “You can get back to practice and work on it before the real games begin.”
The real games begin this weekend, and no doubt will the learning process as the Indians look to take a major step forward this season.